Date: January 23, 2006
Contact: Lindsay Gladstone
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-7090
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
Universtiy Park, January 23, 2006 - Among the many millions of fans watching on the television sets and cheering from their couches for the United States Olympic figure skating team competing this February in Torino, Italy, will be Dr. David Diers, professor of physical therapy at Governors State University.
Diers, of Manhattan, has a special connection to the members of the team after his 10 days as a volunteer athletic trainer and physical therapist during the U.S. Figure Skating National Championship in St. Louis in January.
“It is exciting to work with top level athletes,” said Diers. “It is a joy to help someone be the best they can and to compete at this level,”
Before his stint in St. Louis, Diers knew little about figure skating. “My only experience with ice was on frozen cornfields when I was a boy in Iowa. I did not know a Sal chow from a toe loop from an axel, but now I understand the difference and difficulty, and how much work and practice go into competing.”
Diers’ job in St. Louis included standing ready by the ice rink in case of injuries during practice sessions and competitions and working with injured athletes to return them to the competition.
“We stood on the ice waiting for them to get hurt, hoping we wouldn’t be needed. When we were, it was a matter of caring for the injury to get the athlete back on the ice.”
Diers recognized the importance of his role to the competitors. “Their careers were in our hands. Returning to the competition was everything to them. This is their life and my help allows them to be there.”
While Diers enjoyed watching the competitions, he found the practice sessions more interesting and exciting. “There would be 6 skaters on the ice at the same time, flying by each other at full speed, hoping they don’t run into each other. You don’t see that on television.”
While Diers does not have a favorite member of the team, he will be watching and cheering for the competitors he worked with in St. Louis. “Having met them and knowing what they go through during a competition makes it more personal--and they are from the United States.”
Diers has been a professor at Governors State University in University Park for seven years. Last summer, he volunteered to work with the athletes training at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He has also volunteered to work with local park district programs and the Hubbard Street Dance Company.